Online Master’s Programs In Sustainability

October 13, 2021 , Modified on June 9, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s Programs In Sustainability

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Careers & Salaries with a Graduate Degree in Sustainability

Earning a master's in sustainability online can help professionals advance or change their career. Many governments, companies, and organizations employ master's degree-holders as sustainability managers, advisors, analysts, and program directors. According to PayScale, professionals with an MS in sustainability earn an average of $60,000 per year, while individuals with a BA in the field earn an average of $44,000 per year.

This guide includes information about common academic requirements for master's in sustainability programs, including typical courses, project requirements, and specializations. The following sections also detail funding options, professional organizations, and career opportunities for graduates.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Online Master's in Sustainability Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Sustainability Program?

Students earning a master's in sustainability online explore current environmental issues such as fossil fuels, global warming, loss of biodiversity, and resource scarcity. Degree-seekers learn sustainability methods, the science behind climate change, and techniques for protecting endangered resources.

Master's in sustainability programs typically offer specialization areas such as biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, and soil science. Many graduates become industry leaders, consultants, policy makers, engineers, and scientists. Earning a master's degree can lead to career advancement, helping professionals obtain leadership positions in the field.

Degree-seekers in most programs gain practical experience during an internship with a business, government agency, research facility, or nonprofit organization. Students gain advanced communication, writing, and research skills. Learners also examine management techniques and develop scientific expertise. Some programs encourage students to develop marketable skills through courses in areas such as business, engineering, urban planning, public policy, and law.

What Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Sustainability Program?

Each online master's program offers different classes, and students should research the curricula of prospective programs. However, the common courses listed below are available in many sustainability master's programs.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Students earning a master's in sustainability online must typically complete a capstone project. This final project generally involves in-depth research culminating in a thesis. Students choose a sustainability issue to research and analyze, and they draw conclusions supported by data. Degree-seekers usually work with an academic advisor to choose their topic and write a paper.

A graduate degree in the field prepares students for careers in areas including engineering, the sciences, education, and consulting. Some career paths may require additional exams or certification -- particularly jobs in engineering, the sciences, and education. Students should research their prospective career to determine whether they may need additional credentials.

What Specializations Are Available in a Master's in Sustainability Program?

Many learners obtaining a master's in sustainability online specialize in a certain area of the field. Earning a specialization can make graduates more competitive for related positions. Specialization options and titles vary by program, but many master's in sustainability programs offer the following concentration options.

How Much Can I Make With a Career in Sustainability?

After earning a master's in sustainability online, graduates can pursue careers in the areas of engineering, business, law, consulting, education, and the sciences. A sustainability master's degree prepares graduates for advanced leadership roles. The table below details three potential careers for degree-holders. However, no degree guarantees a particular position or salary.

Industrial Ecologist

Industrial ecologists use their knowledge of physical sciences, social sciences, and natural ecosystems to design efficient and sustainable models for industrial businesses and systems. These professionals strive to use natural resources effectively and sustainably. Industrial ecologists need expertise related to technical systems, natural systems, economic systems, and societal issues.

Median Annual Salary: $71,130

Job Growth 2018-2028: 7-10%

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers often solve problems associated with waste treatment, site remediation, and pollution control. These engineers need strong research, design, analysis, and planning skills. Some environmental engineers work as consultants. Others work full time for a company or government agency. Many environmental engineers have expertise in an area such as law, construction, business, or science.

Median Annual Salary: $87,620

Job Growth 2018-2028: 4-6%

Sustainability Consultant

These professionals help businesses, communities, governments, and nonprofits create environmentally friendly policies and practices. Sustainability consultants may specialize in a certain type of industry, law, or business. Consultants typically work in office settings, but some professionals may travel, work in the field, and/or perform onsite inspections of factories and workspaces.

Median Annual Salary: $70,530

Job Growth 2018-2028: 4-6%

Online Master's in Sustainability Program Accreditation

Sustainability is a relatively new, independent field of study. Students researching master's in sustainability online degree programs should look for regionally accredited universities and colleges.

Students can also look for programmatic accreditation from field-specific agencies such as the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council. This organization develops guidelines and standards for higher education institutions regarding environmental health science and protection.

How to Pay for a Master's in Sustainability Degree

Students can pursue many funding opportunities to help defray the cost of earning an online master's in sustainability. Below are three common methods for covering the cost of tuition and fees.

Scholarships for Master's in Sustainability Students

Dr. Wesley Eckenfelder, Jr. Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled full time in a graduate program at an accredited college or university. Applicants must be studying environmental engineering or environmental science.

Amount: $5,000

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP

Charles P. Bell Conservation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be studying a field related to natural resources management -- specifically fish, wildlife, or water. The foundation only considers Missouri residents, but recipients do not need to attend an in-state institution.

Amount: $600

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP

Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Graduate students who apply for this scholarship must attend an accredited institution and enroll in at least nine credits. Applicants must be studying sustainability with a focus on agriculture.

Amount: Varies

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP

Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Who Can Apply: This fellowship supports graduate research and study in ecological restoration. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited institution and plan to research biodiversity, ecological processes, or sustainable practices.

Amount: $8,000

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP

The Blades of Green Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: Learners pursuing a graduate-level education in environmental studies or a related field may qualify for this merit-based award. Applicants must submit a 350-500-word letter of intent describing their target career path and passion for their intended field.

Amount: $1,000

APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP

Professional Organizations and Resources

Many professional organizations offer membership to students and professionals. These associations often provide educational resources, job boards, career advancement tools, and networking opportunities. Members may also receive information about new research in sustainability and related scientific and engineering fields.

Online Master's in Sustainability Programs 2021


  1. University of South Florida-Main Campus
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $10460

    A public college in Tampa, USF offers an online master of arts and an online master of science in global sustainability. Both online master's in sustainability tracks include 36 credits.

    The MA offers four concentrations. They include sustainable business, climate mitigation and adaptation, and sustainability policy. The final concentration is sustainable tourism. The MS offers five concentrations, including entrepreneurship, sustainable energy, and sustainable transportation.

    Candidates on both tracks end the program with a capstone experience worth 3-6 credits. The capstone can entail an internship or research project. The internship gives students hands-on experience in a professional setting. The research project tasks students with applying sustainability perspectives to a social, environmental, or economic issue.

  2. University of Wisconsin-Parkside
    Location

    Kenosha, WI

    Tuition

    $10409

    UW-Parkside's MS in sustainable management is ranked among the top online master's in sustainability programs in the Midwest. The program operates in partnership with five other UW member campuses. Students can learn from many faculty members across several schools.

    The 34-credit program includes core courses, electives, and a capstone project. Core courses include economics of sustainability and the built environment. Another core class covers leading sustainable organizations. Electives explore specialized topics such as sustainable water management and corporate social responsibility.

    During the program's final semester, students complete a capstone project. They work with businesses or other professional organizations to solve real-world sustainability problems.

  3. Montclair State University
    Location

    Montclair, NJ

    Tuition

    $17086

    One of New Jersey's public colleges, Montclair hosts a top-ranked master's in sustainability online. The MS in sustainability science with a concentration in sustainability leadership focuses on business and sustainability practices. Graduates learn to manage sustainability for businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. The program serves working professionals through a flexible, online format.

    The 32-credit program covers environmental research and urban contamination. Students learn about organizational environmental management. Full-time candidates can complete the program in as little as one year.

    All candidates complete a comprehensive culminating project. Options include an internship or applied research project. The internship builds hands-on experience in a business, government agency, or other organization. The research project requires original research on a sustainability issue. Both projects need a comprehensive writing report and an oral presentation.

  4. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    ERAU is a private aeronautics college based in Daytona Beach, Florida. The school offers an online MS in aviation and aerospace sustainability. The program explores how technological advances and new management practices can meet sustainability goals in aviation organizations.

    The 30-credit online master's in sustainability includes core courses and specialization courses. Students can choose from nine specializations, such as aviation maintenance or aviation safety. Learners can also choose the space operations specialization. Core courses cover sustainable policy, statistical analysis, and operational excellence in aviation.

    The program targets managers, leaders, and mid-career professionals looking to advance their careers. The program admits applicants with a bachelor's degree in a STEM-related field. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 cumulative undergraduate GPA.

  5. Unity College
    Location

    Unity, ME

    Located in Maine, Unity offers an online master of professional science in environmental studies and sustainability. Students learn how to implement sustainability solutions in various political, cultural, and economic contexts.

    The 30-credit program includes a professional skills core and a program core. The professional skills core explores strategic management of innovation. It also highlights communication for professionals and ethical practice and policy. The program core explores ecological economics and community planning for resiliency.

    Most courses use an asynchronous format. Students can complete coursework when it fits into their schedule. Unity features five start dates each year. Enrollees can access the school's online job board to find internships and launch their careers.

Portrait of Reese Lopez

Reese Lopez

Reese Lopez is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the education field. After earning his BA in English from Evergreen State College, he worked as an English language instructor and tutor before joining Affordable Colleges Online. Reese lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also writes fiction and performs in the local music scene.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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